She’s a kook, as with Sean King (aka Talcum X)…
The strange case of Jessica Krug, and what makes someone adopt a false identity
As an academic reveals she’s lived her professional life pretending to be black, Douglas Murray asks why people pursue a life of deceit
Can you change sex? The logic of the current age says “yes”. In that case, can you change race? That is an interesting question, and the eruption of a new ‘transracialism’ controversy in the United States has once again brought this very modern conundrum back into the news….
The latest case involves an academic at George Washington University called Jessica Krug. The associate professor has lived her professional life claiming to be black. This week, she admitted that she is, in fact, a white Jewish woman from Kansas City. “I have built my life on a violent anti-black lie,” she wrote on Thursday. It transpires that Krug first claimed to be North African, then black American, then Caribbean from the Bronx.
“To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child,” she wrote in a mea culpa post of the website Medium, going on to describe this as “the very epitome of violence, thievery and appropriation”.
In her personal relationships, too, she had continued the pretence that she was black, now pointing to mental health and early trauma issues as her reason for spending a lifetime doing a form of blackface.
Of course, for many people, this is a matter of deep confusion. But other cases in recent years have helped to make this bizarre corner slightly more explicable.
The most famous came in 2015 when the regional head of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in Washington State was outed as white. Indeed, not only was Rachel Dolezal white, she was about as white as it is possible to be. Her parents were German-Czechs and gave an interview in which they expressed surprise that their daughter had presented herself – in her professional and personal life – as black. Readers may remember the excruciating ensuing interview in which Dolezal was asked if she was black and she pretended not to understand the question. Rarely has a public shaming been more total. Nobody could have watched it without putting their hands in front of their eyes.
Even before you get to the “why”, there is the question of “how”. In the case of Dolezal, it seemed rather plain. She appears to have used a certain amount of bronzer on her skin and had for years done her own weave. It says a lot about the state of race-relations in America that nobody even in the NAACP had ever asked Dolezal: “Er, but aren’t you white?”
But such people know that they are living through an age that daren’t ask that. The same goes for others who have tried the same move. All have taken advantage of a race-relations situation in America and here, where people are so aware of the dangers of racism or accusations of racism that they are willing to accept white people as black if they say they are, rather than risk the career implosions that would undoubtedly happen if they asked any question and got it wrong.
Dolezal was interesting because there genuinely did seem to be psychological reasons why she wanted to escape being white. And she genuinely did seem to feel closer to black people and black culture than she did to her own family background.